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Power of Attorney Forms

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A power of attorney form (POA) is a document that lets a person (the principal) choose someone else (their agent) to handle their medical and financial responsibilities. It’s recommended that the principal choose their spouse, a family member, or a close friend for this position. A power of attorney form must be signed in accordance with state law (which may require witnesses or a notarization). After signing, the agent must present the document each time they are to act on behalf of the principal.

By State

By Type (11)

Simple (1 page) Power of Attorney – A simplified variation of the limited power of attorney form. Can be used to give a person authority for general life tasks (such as cashing a check).

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Advance Directive – Combines a living will and medical power of attorney into one (1) document.

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Durable Power of Attorney – Allows an agent to take someone’s place for financial decisions and remains valid if the principal should become incapacitated.

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General Power of Attorney – Permits an agent to take someone’s place for financial decisions, but becomes invalid if the principal becomes incapacitated.

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Limited Power of Attorney – Allows an agent to act on behalf of the principal for a specific purpose. This document becomes void after the agent has fulfilled their duty.

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Living Will – Sets end-of-life treatment options for a patient. Usually coupled with medical power of attorney.

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Medical Power of Attorney – Gives an agent the right to act on a person’s behalf for medical decisions (only if the principal can no longer make decisions themselves).

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Minor (child) Power of Attorney – Allows a parent or guardian to allow someone else to make decisions on behalf of their child. This instrument is effective only for a short period, typically a maximum of 6 to 12 months, but this varies state by state.

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Real Estate Power of Attorney – Permits a representative to make buying, selling, and leasing decisions on the principal’s behalf.

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Tax Power of Attorney (2848) – For Federal (IRS) or state tax purposes. Required by most tax accountants and lawyers when filing on their client’s behalf.

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Vehicle (DMV) Power of Attorney – Can be executed to grant a representative to handle the sale, purchase, or registration of a motor vehicle for the principal.

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Contents

What is a Power of Attorney?

A power of attorney is a form used for providing a person (agent) with the authority to represent another person. The document is most commonly used for electing someone else to handle financial transactions or medical decisions. The most popular type of designation, known as a “durable power of attorney,” allows the appointment to remain active even if the principal should become incapacitated.

Durable vs Non-Durable

It’s very important to understand the difference between a power of attorney being durable versus non-durable. A power of attorney document that is durable gives the principal’s agent the power to make decisions even if the principal is unable to make decisions on their own, a term referred to as being incapacitated. Therefore, the agent will have the power to act on the principal’s behalf at their sole discretion. It’s important that the agent comprehends the wishes and preferences of the principal so they can represent them to the best of their ability in the event of incapacitation.

It should stated explicitly somewhere on the form whether or not the power of attorney executed by the principals is durable or non-durable.

Which Power of Attorney Is for Me?

The flow chart below can be used to decide which power of attorney document best suits one’s needs:

How to Get Power of Attorney

Getting power of attorney requires a principal to select a trusted person to handle specific responsibilities on their behalf. The powers and terms of designation are written in a document called a “power of attorney form,” which must be signed under the laws of the state in which it is executed. Once signed, the agent may use the form whenever they act in the place of the principal.

Step 1 – Select an Agent

An agent, also known as an “attorney-in-fact” or “surrogate,” may act on behalf of the principal for financial or medical-related decisions. When selecting an agent, the principal should choose someone that they believe to be trustworthy and that appreciates their values. Therefore, the principal might appoint their spouse, a family member, or a close friend as their agent.

If the principal is having a difficult time selecting their agent, an individual named as a beneficiary in their Last Will and Testament is sometimes a suitable option.

Step 2 – Choose Powers

Decide the powers that the agent will have during the term of the power of attorney. Depending on the form, this may be wide-ranging financial responsibility or the ability to make health care decisions for someone else. No matter the role, the principal will ultimately decide what the agent can and cannot do on their behalf.

Step 3 – Complete the Power of Attorney Form

Once the powers have been agreed upon it’s time to meet with the agent and complete the documents. The agent should be made aware of the intentions of the principal and what they expect them to do as their agent. Once the agent understands the wishes and plans of the principal, the documents should be signed.

It’s highly recommended to use the power of attorney documents specific to the state in which the principal resides.

Step 4 – Sign the Document

Each state has its own signing requirements, and each power of attorney document has its own specifications as well. Most power of attorney forms require signatures to be inscribed before a notary public, witnesses, or both. Some states have further requirements that family members, beneficiaries, and medical staff cannot be considered witnesses. Therefore, the principal would be wise to read their state laws to ensure the power of attorney document will be legally binding.

Step 5 – Register and Use

In some states, such as California, a principal is able to protect themselves by registering the signed power of attorney with a government agency. For the agent to act on behalf of the principal, they must present a copy of the power of attorney each time they are completing an act as the principal’s attorney-in-fact. Some institutions, such as banks and hospitals, might allow the agent to file the power of attorney so that it does not have to be produced every time.

Uniform Power of Attorney Act

The Uniform Power of Attorney Act (UPOAA) was created by the Uniform Law Commission to provide the best possible legislation with regard to a power of attorney. Since being introduced in 2006, it has been enacted in 28 states with more states scheduled to enact the UPOAA.

The UPOAA only applies to financial powers and does not affect health care, guardianship, or conservatorship decisions.

State Year Enacted Bill
Alabama 2011 SB 53
 Arkansas 2011 SB 887
 Colorado 2009 HB 09-1198
 Connecticut 2016 Public Act No. 15-240
 Georgia 2018 House Bill 897
Hawaii 2014 SB 2229
Idaho 2008 Title 15, Chapter 12
Iowa 2014 S.F. 2168
Kentucky 2020 KRS Chapter 457
Maine 2009 Chapter 292
 Maryland 2010 SB 309
Montana 2011 HB 0374
Nebraska 2012 LB 1113
Nevada 2019 NRS Chapter 162A
 New Hampshire 2017 SB230
New Mexico 2011 SB 146
North Carolina 2017 SB 569
Ohio 2012 SB 117
Oklahoma 2021 HB 2548
Pennsylvania 2014 HB 1429
South Carolina 2016 SB 778
South Dakota 2020 SB 148
 Texas 2017 HB 1974
Utah 2016 HB 74
Virginia 2010 SB 569
Washington 2017 SB 5635
West Virginia 2012 HB 4390
Wisconsin 2010 Chapter 244
Wyoming 2017 SF0105

Sample

Download: PDF, Word (.docx), OpenDocument


How to Write

A power of attorney form should not be drafted from scratch, unless done so by an experienced attorney that has extensive knowledge in power of attorney law. This explanation on how to write a power of attorney details the steps a principal should take when filling out their power of attorney form.

Step 1 – Read the Power of Attorney Form

A power of attorney form should be detailed and tailored to the specific needs of the principal. If they need to create a power of attorney to give financial powers to an agent, they should be certain that they are not using a medical power of attorney. Once they are satisfied with the contents of the document, they can begin to complete all the mandatory fillable fields.

Step 2 – Make it State Specific

1. Since a power of attorney must be state specific, enter the state of where the principal resides.

Step 3 – Choosing an Agent

Provide the following information into the appropriate fields:

2. Full legal name of the principal. (The principal is the person giving power to the agent.)
3. The agent’s name. (This is the person that is being granted power of attorney.)
4. The agent’s address.
5. The agent’s phone number.

Step 4 – Successor Agent’s (Optional)

In the event that the primary agent dies or is unable to perform their duties, a backup agent will take their place(successor agent). And if the successor agent is unavailable, a second successor agent will be appointed. The following successor agent information must be provided:

6. The successor agent’s name. 
7.
The successor agent’s address. 
8.
The successor agent’s phone number.
9. The 2nd successor agent’s name.
10. The 2nd successor agent’s address.
11. The 2nd successor agent’s phone number.

Step 5 – Grant Powers to Agent

12. The principal must initial next to each power that they wish to grant to their agent. As seen in the image above, do not use a check mark to grant powers.

Step 6 – Special Instructions

13. If it’s there are certain details not already included in the content of the document, the principal can enter them in the special instructions section. For example, if powers are granted to two (2) agents, the principal can state within the special instructions that they must act in conjunction with each other on all matters.

Step 7 – Nominees

A court of law may feel that it’s necessary to appoint an individual to handle the principal’s estate on their behalf (conservator) or a guardian of their person. The principal can use this section of the form to provide a nominee for these positions; however, the court ultimately has the final say in the matter.

14. The name of the nominee for conservator.
15. The address of the nominee for conservator.
16. The phone number of the nominee for conservator.
17. The name of the nominee for guardian.
18. The address of the nominee for guardian.
19. The phone number of the nominee for guardian.

Step 8 – Principal’s Signature

20. In section 20, enter the personal information of the principal including name, date, address, and phone number. It’s better to wait to sign until in the presence of a Notary Public.

Step 9 – Agent’s Certification

The agent is required to make a statement under penalty of perjury that the principal did in fact grant them power of attorney. To do this, they must enter the following information into fields 21-25:

21. The state in which the agent resides. (It does not have to be the same state and county in which the principal lives.)
22. The county in which the agent resides.
23. The agent’s name.
24. The principal’s name.
25. The date this section was completed.

Step 10 – Agent’s Signature

26. The agent’s personal information must be entered in this section. If necessary, the agent must wait until in the presence of a notary to sign the document.


Frequently Asked Questions

How long does a power of attorney last?

There are no set rules when determining the duration of a power of attorney. It can last for a specific set of time with the option of being conditional or it can have everlasting powers until the principal dies or becomes incapacitated. A power of attorney is a flexible document that can be customized to fit any type of situation or timetable.

How to revoke or take power of attorney away from someone?

Canceling a power of attorney is as simple as completing a Revocation Form and signing it in accordance with state laws. It’s equally important for the principal, after revoking, to inform all institutions including banks, hospitals, and any other third (3rd) parties that the agent is no longer able to act on their behalf.

Who can override a power of attorney?

The only person allowed to override a power of attorney is the creator, also known as the principal. To override a POA, the principal must revoke or create a new power of attorney to override the powers given to their agent. In the event of suspected abuse from an agent on an incapacitated principal, a court has the ability to override and strip the agent’s powers.

What does power of attorney mean?

Power of attorney is the act of allowing another person, known as the agent, to make decisions and perform tasks on your behalf.

Where can I get a power of attorney from?

A power of attorney can be obtained from a multitude of places:

Because POA forms are quite common, they are inexpensive and relatively easy to complete without the help of an attorney (although using one is recommended).

Can a power of attorney change a will?

No, an agent does not have the legal means to change a will, even with a power of attorney. Only the creator of a will has the power to change it.

Can a power of attorney be changed without consent?

If the principal is not incapacitated, only they can change the power of attorney. If the principal is incapacitated, neither the agent nor the principal can alter the power of attorney without written approval by a court.

Does a power of attorney need to be notarized?

Yes, the majority of states require a power of attorney form to be notarized. Regardless of state laws, a POA should be notarized like most other legal documents in order to strengthen the legality of the document.

In addition to notarization, many states also require POA documents to be signed by two (2) witnesses.

Can two siblings have power of attorney?

Yes, two siblings can both be an agent on their parent’s power of attorney. One sibling will be named the main agent while the other as the co-agent. Despite the title designations, a power of attorney, with special instructions, can require both siblings to act in accordance together when making decisions. Otherwise, the sibling named as the main agent will have direct powers while the sibling as the co-agent will serve as the backup agent.